A Message of Hope, Strength and Resilience
A short tale of how an afternoon bike ride led me to a beautiful example of hope, strength and resilience in these turbulent times.
When I went out for a bike ride today I did so with a heavy heart. The conflict on our planet seems to be unending. The violence, aggression, use of force and domination over others and the onslaught of bad news that it brings are at times more than the heart can bear. No sooner are we seeing the end of the pandemic years, are we thrown into war and all the fear and uncertainty it entails.
As I rode along the river the sun was shining but I felt far from cheerful. It felt somehow wrong to be out trying to raise my spirits considering all that is unfolding in the world. Nevertheless, I tried to enjoy the sun on my face as I rode and kept my focus on the bright pink blossom exploding from the trees.
A Surprising Find
As I approached a familiar patch of grass that I had ridden past many times before, something caught my eye. In the middle, a young tree has been planted. I was curious since there was only one, because usually the council plants many. It was also surrounded by a small circle of stones supporting its base, another sign that this wasn’t the work of the council.
Naturally, I got off my bike to have a closer look. The next thing that caught my eye was a head stone, which seemed to have a text screwed to it on a metal plate. Now I really was curious and squatted down to see what it said. I half expected a grave stone or a tribute to some important person of the past. However, what I read was neither of the two.
To my surprise, the text read:
“The Tree of Grandparents”
During the quarantine of spring 2020, while our granddad, like thousands of others, was fighting against COVID-19, this tree was born on our terrace. Despite having to survive with just a bit of sandy dust in the corner and having buckets of water with bleach often thrown over it by the cleaners, the tree clung to life.
The Tree of Grandparents was a sign of strength and hope, and at the end of April, still confined to our homes, we put it in a pot to give it a better chance. It lost all of its leaves but in the end it was able to grow bigger and stronger.
We hope that someday it has thousands of leaves, one for all the much loved beings that we lost to the virus.
Maya (aged 7), Cloé (aged 4) and baby Nicolás.”
Wow, that was not what I had been expected to read. I felt touched and sat down to read it one more time.
What a beautiful symbol and testament to what we have all been living through these past two years. It felt like a balm to my heavy heart. I lay down right there in the middle of the patch of grass, even though it was right in the middle of the path. I allowed myself to be bathed in the rays of the sun and sung to by the birds.
Other cyclists came past and must have wondered what I was doing. It was hardly a place to sunbathe! One guy even stopped and asked if I was ok! But I didn’t care, I was savouring the healing effects of those uplifting words. I surrendered to all that is and allowed the heaviness in my heart to be burned away by the delicious spring sunshine.
After a while, I sat up but still didn’t feel like moving. Instead I sat and enjoyed watching the nature all around me and the funny looks of passersby. I noticed some beetles climbing over the stone and marvelled at the brilliance of their bright red shells. Then I spotted other insects scrambling through the grass. It felt peaceful to watch them. It brought me to the present moment, away from the headlines, the social media posts and my preoccupation with all that is happening in the world.
After a while I continued on my bike ride along the river. I stopped to have my packed lunch amongst some blossom trees and ate whilst listening to the sound of the river.
The Tree of Grandparents had really lifted my spirits. It reminded me of the love that us humans are capable of when we share our hearts freely without fear. It spoke to me of our strength and resilience and our ability to keep going as we weather the storm. It showed me that even the smallest gesture, such as planting a tree or sharing a small story is enough to uplift spirits and heal hearts.
In a time war and impending disaster, we often feel helpless as we watch it play out on our screens. The impotence we feel is painful; it hangs heavy on our hearts in the form of guilt and occupies our mind in the form of agitated worry.
Whilst we may not be able to stop what is happening in our world directly, we can choose how we respond to it. Burying our heads in the sand and pretending it isn’t happening is no good, as this just adds to the deep sense of impending doom that brews under the veneer of our superficial outlook. Yet letting oneself get so bogged down in doom and gloom, fear and worry is not the answer either. After all, how can we help to bring more light into the world and help uplift others, if we are consumed by fear and despair?
This naturally leads to the question: so what can I do? How can I see this play out and stand still and do nothing?
Today, Maya, Cloé and Nicolas showed me the way.
Be The Change
For me, this is the only way to navigate through these times: by believing in the power of love, the power of small acts of kindness and the power we each have to uplift each other’s spirits.
Maya, Cloé, Nicolas and their parents will never know the positive influence their offering of that small tree has had on me, and no doubt on others who have taken the time to read their message. Now their symbol of hope, strength and resilience has rippled out and found its way to you. Who will you pass it on to?
A Prayer for Peace
As with any geo-political event, there are many different perspectives of who the bad guys and the good guys are and many different theories of what is really going on. I am now reminded of one of the ‘Human’ documentaries I watched many years ago.
I remember an Israeli man was being interviewed. He spoke of his experiences living through the conflict there and the many arguments he’d had with people over the years. Now however, after so many years, he had come to the conclusion that those who were on his side were all those who sought peace. Forget right and wrong, past grievances and fights. He was for peace. Peace for all sides, for all parties involved, for all peoples of that land, regardless of who they were, or where they were from.
Tonight, I will light a candle for peace. Peace for the Ukraine, for Russia and all other countries at war across the globe right now. I will also light it for all of us bearing witness to the suffering of our neighbours in distant lands.
May we be resilient.
May we stand in love and compassion.
May all hearts know peace.
In gratitude to Maya, Cloé, Nicolas and their parents for gifting me this generous symbol of strength and hope and providing such a beautiful example of resilience. The leaves of The Grandparent’s Tree are sprouting and the buds are opening. May our hearts do the same.
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